During a Friday April 15th 2012 meeting, the Board of Visitors of James Madison University, located in Harrisonburg, Virginia, voted to promulgate a regulation banning weapons on campus.
While the exact text of the proposed regulation has not yet been released, it reportedly closely mimics the policy previously in effect at JMU.
In replacing their policy with a promulgated regulation, JMU joins the over half-a-dozen other Virginia colleges and universities that have moved to replace policies with regulations following the opinion by Attorney General Cuccinelli that policies have no force against permit holders whereas regulations, which have the force and effect of law, trump Virginia’s concealed handgun permit law. Attorney General Cuccinelli based his opinion on the holding in DiGiacinto v. Rector and Visitors of George Mason University and § 18.2-308(o) of the code of Virginia which states:
[t]he granting of a concealed handgun permit shall not thereby authorize the possession of any handgun or other weapon on property or in places where such possession is otherwise prohibited by law[.]
Since properly promulgated regulations have the force and effect of law, this generalized prohibition on the otherwise broad recognition of right-to-carry by permit holders withstands judicial review according to the Virginia Supreme Court.
This trend has also been facilitated by the fact that under current law, Commonwealth operated colleges and universities are largely immune to the requirements of the Virginia Administrative Process Act.
There are three distinct legislative remedies that gun owners need to seek in upcoming legislative sessions to address this problem.
1) Remove the generalized prohibition in § 18.2-308(o) and require all prohibitions on the right-to-carry be specifically added to § 18.2-308 by the duly elected legislature rather than by administrative agencies.
2) Enact a code section which extends preemption to the actions of administrative agencies. Virginia already preempts localities and their agents from regulating firearms in § 15.2-915.
3) Remove the fast track administrative powers of Commonwealth operated colleges and universities where such administrative action will impact visitors and third-parties.
Tomorrow’s column will feature proposed legislation to accomplish these goals.